Sports Chat: How to Forgive Michael Vick
Since I have moved back to Chicago, I have found a larger segment of the gay [male] populous that know sports. Fellow homos with a vested interest in professional and college teams, follow league trades, rumors, players (not just how they look) and love a good ol’ fashioned ‘Player X is better than Player Y’ argument. It would bring a tear to a glass eye. But that’s not what makes me cry these days. What brings out my inner-sports meatball is the number of sports-hating queens out there that still believe Michael Vick should be in prison. Vick has paid his debt to society and deserves forgiveness. Get over Michael Vick.
I can talk sports anywhere and frequently do. On more than one occasion, football has come up, as have the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick will be mentioned, but only about his performance on the field: his footwork, movement in the pocket, arm strength, accuracy and changes in game style from Atlanta to Philadelphia. Over the weekend, I was at one of Chicago’s finest establishments (which is to say, ‘gayest’) and I mentioned to a friend that Vick is the MVP of the NFC. I was overheard and immediately chastised for supporting, “that sick fuck” who “should still be in jail” as this particular individual “hate[s] him, because he’s a scum bag.”
I tried, so very, very hard, dear readers, to let it go. I tried to ignore the comments of the ignorant and the self-righteous and continue to enjoy the La Roux/Whitney Houston/Taylor Swift/Robyn mash-up pumping through the club speakers and my Jack/Coke drink. But I am a weak man, and my competitive ire was up. My opponent was no match for my skills. I was wearing my traditional Chicago White Sox cap (broke waaaay off the left, for the sake of ‘keeping it real), was fresh off a work out and in jeans that allowed blood to flow into and out of my legs. He was wearing a v-neck cut far too low for Chicago January, with fur Ugg boots, jeans that looked so tight they must have been painted on and a mohawk that was half gold-blond, half jet-black.
I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt and not judge him solely by appearance. After all, that would be unfair. So the numbers test was necessary.
Me: “Don’t get me wrong, what he [Vick] did was despicable, but the guy had well-over $100 million dollars taken from him. His entire life was turned upside down by an admittedly evil thing. But he’s paid his debt to society, doesn’t he deserve another chance?”
Him:“NO! He should have done to him exactly what he did to those poor dogs. What a sick fuck.”
“Wait, so having two years of your life, the prime of your life, taken from you, being forced to spend the days and nights in a federal prison aren’t enough?”
“Do you have a dog? Are you saying what he did was okay? I can’t believe any team picked him up.”
“I’m saying that what he did was enough to warrant a federal conviction, the voiding of his contract with the Falcons, the total loss of endorsements, vilification by the American people and JAIL TIME. Of course what he did was awful and stomach turning. Yes, I have a dog. Certainly NFL teams picked him up, he’s a marvelous talent who could be had on the cheap. It would have been poor management not to take a flier on him. So, you don’t believe that his work for PETA, the speeches he gives regularly to schools and youth groups are genuine? You think he should still be punished?”
“He’s a sick fuck who should still be in prison. He’s why I won’t watch the NFL.”
“But you know nothing about what he’s actually done to restore his image or his actual game? You’re still going off of old news reports? You know there are dudes in the NFL who have killed people, right? Like, legit, ‘now you’re dead, OJ-style’ killed people…And what of his work for PETA?”
“I won’t support any NFL team as long as Vick plays.”
“So, you believe what he did was beyond redemption?”
“He electrocuted and tortured dogs!”
“Right, which is why he went to prison and lost all his money. What about his work for PETA, the countless interviews he’s done on television over the past year, most specifically the one on ABC?”
This continued for a while. Trying to bring actual numbers proved, ironically, fruitless. This was clearly a gentleman who knew nothing about the Xs and Os of football but wanted only to hate Vick. He isn’t the only one, I’ve had variations of this conversation before. Curious that no one ever seems to bring up Ben Roethlisberger as a counter-argument for athletes it’s okay to root for.
I admit that it isn’t easy to root for Michael Vick. I’m one of the few people who likes him more now that I did when he was with Atlanta before 2007. What he did was despicable, cruel and disgusting. But, he was found guilty in a court of law. He spent time in prison (I hear it was in the neighborhood of two years in a federal prison). He declared bankruptcy and lost his fortune. President Obama has forgiven him. There are plenty of villains and bad guys in professional sports. There are plenty of professional athletes who don’t deserve forgiveness and should be scorned and boo’d. Michael Vick is not one of those athletes. Not anymore. Don’t be like one of these reactionary queens at the bar. I’m not saying he should be your favorite player, or that you should root for the Eagles. Michael Vick has, however, paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance.
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